Australia as a nation is passionate about its sport.

Everything from Rugby and netball, to skateboarding and cycling – we love a thrill, but not so much the spills that can come with it.  

A heavy tackle, a bump in the road, an elbow or knee in the wrong place can lead to disaster. Mouthguards are a great way to minimise risk and spills and keep the thrills.

What is a mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a thick plastic mold that fits over your teeth.  They’re usually worn during contact sport, where there is a high risk of heavy facial contact. Sports mouthguards are not to be confused with ‘splints’ which are made to protect your teeth from damage from grinding, or oral devices that assist with snoring or Sleep apnoea. 

Am I at risk without a mouthguard if I play sport?

According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), about one-third of traumatic injuries to teeth are sports-related. Sports Medicine Association Australia suggests that 50% of children experience some form of dental injury.

Depending on the type and severity of the contact, an injury may cause a tooth or teeth to chip, fracture, or break, there is a risk of tooth loss, jaw fracture, or soft tissue injury (lips, mouth, and gums). 

The good news is that such injuries are often prevented by the use of a properly fitted custom mouthguard.

What can a mouthguard do?

If you sustain a  direct impact to the face, the force of the blow can travel upwards, through the jaw and teeth, and skull, sometimes even causing a concussion. The force can cause the unprotected teeth to slam together, causing breakage.  A custom mouthguard will act as a shock absorber to aid in protecting your teeth jaw and skull from the force of the blow.

When should I wear a  mouthguard during sport?

Any time there is a risk, you should be wearing a mouthguard. That means training and game day. 

How do I choose the right mouthguard for me?

There are two main mouthguard options on the market:

Personal custom-fitted mouthguards:  The Dental Practitioner will make a mold of your teeth to ensure optimum protection.  Careful consideration of your mouth anatomy is noted when making a mouthguard specifically for you. Consideration is also taken into account for the type of sport you play. Playing Waterpolo for instance has different requirements to riding a bike or playing rugby.  The mouthguard will consist of double or triple-layer laminates and will be refitted to ensure optimum comfort and fit when you collect the finished mouthguard. 

Boil-and-bite, or Over-the-Counter mouthguards:  these are purchased from a sports store or chemist as a generic shape. They are then immersed in hot water before being self-fitted by biting into the heated material to take the shape of your teeth.  While better than nothing at all, the conformity and force resilience of these mouthguards is not optimal and will be less effective protection overall.

Will a mouthguard affect my performance?

A properly fitted, professionally made custom mouthguard is highly unlikely to negatively affect performance. Due to the inaccuracy of the boil

Can I wear a mouthguard if I have braces?

Yes, and you should protect that investment! Your practitioner will fit your mouthguard around your braces, ad make allowances for any shifts that may occur. While it’s not likely, you may need to visit your practitioner for minor adjustments during the season should your mouthguard become uncomfortable. 

How much do mouthguards cost?

This will depend on what you choose to wear. A boil and bite mouthguard can cost between $12 and $70.

A custom mouthguard will cost between $190 -$300. The cost of this can be reclaimed through most private health insurers, as they obviously would prefer to protect your teeth from injury than to pay for expensive and extensive dental and hospital costs! Perhaps think of it as an annual insurance payment.

How to care for your mouthguard

Rinse in soap and water after use. Once it’s dry return it to its original container for safekeeping.  It’s fine to wash it with mouthwash from time to time to keep it pristine. Please don’t leave it out in the sun, on the seat of your car, or loose in your gear bag, this treatment can cause it to distort and become ill-fitting. Protect your investment! 

To be sure your mouthguard remains in good condition, ask your dental practitioner to check it next time you’re in for a check and clean. If it’s been damaged, it will need to be replaced to be effective.  Most Health funds cover 1-2 mouthguards per calendar year.

While children’s mouthguards need to be replaced annually due to growth and change, an adult mouthguard, if properly cared for, can last longer.  If it’s uncomfortable, it’s not right. Best to give it an annual check with your dentist for safety’s sake.

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